A seven-year-old Florida boy swam for an hour to shore to save his father and sister from drowning after they got caught in a strong current in St Johns River.
The family from Jacksonville was on a boating trip in to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend when things took a sudden turn and father Steven Poust made the tough decision to ask his son to swim ashore to get help, reported local TV station Jax4.
The father said he had anchored the boat in the river while he fished and his children Chase, 7, and Abigail, 4, played on the boat on Friday.
Abigail was in the water holding on to the back of the boat but the current proved too strong, and she lost her grip. Chase initially accompanied her in the water but as they floated away, father Steven decided to leave the boat and do likewise.
All three kept drifting away from the boat. “I felt really scared,” Chase told the TV station.
Mr Poust said he wore himself out while trying to stay with both of them – Abigail was wearing the only life jacket they had. “I told them I loved them because I wasn’t sure what’s going to happen,” he said.
It was then that he asked Chase to swim towards shore to get help, while he stayed with Abigail.
Chase described how he floated on his back and doggy-paddled to preserve energy for the long swim.
“The current was going the opposite way of going to the boat and the shore so it was very hard to swim that way,” Chase said.
After hitting the land, he ran to the nearest house to seek help, following which Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department rushed to the scene and found the father and daughter floating about a mile away from their boat.
“I screamed for help at the top of my lungs and waved my arms and sure enough someone heard us,” Steven said. “Little man also made it to shore and got help and that’s what saved our lives.”
JFRD called for more help from other agencies after reaching the boat, spokesperson Eric Prosswimmer said in a news conference.
"We had every resource we could have possibly had coming quickly and we're happy to say all three have been recovered, and all three are doing well," he said. "We couldn't ask for a better outcome."
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